By Dick Morris
May 04, 2005
Rosen has been indicted for deliberately reporting that the cost of an August 2000 Hollywood fund-raising gala was only $400,000 when the actual tab was $1.2 million - a step that let Mrs. Clinton spend $800,000 more in "hard money" for her campaign. (After Hillary and opponent Rick Lazio agreed to ban soft money, both camps were scrambling to maximize their hard money on hand).
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has reported on a transcript of a Sept. 4, 2002, audiotape of a dinner between Rosen and Ted Kennedy in-law Raymond Reggie, who was wearing a wire. Most news accounts have left out the fact that Rosen implicated himself with each bite of steak.
On tape, the paper reported, Rosen "acknowledges that the gala probably cost far more to produce than he reported on federal campaign forms." Rosen says of the fund-raiser, "We woulda never done it if the guy [Peter Paul] said he spent $2 million. So now he's [Paul] saying he spent $2 million on an event that raised $1.4." Rosen goes on to agree that "he may have" spent the $2 million.
Reggie, whose sister is Ted Kennedy's wife, will get no more than five years in prison on bank-fraud convictions in return for cooperation and testimony at Rosen's trial.
In the conversation, David Rosen calls himself a "guinea pig" for Clinton's lawyers, noting that "the former Clinton White House wanted to hire, or to argue the [Rosen's] case in a certain way." The indicted former finance director said, "And I did it for them. Like, I bit the bullet and went in as a guinea pig and argued their argument for me. Instead of freeing' and runnin' and coverin' my ass, I was a good soldier."
Then Rosen adds, ominously, "So far it's worked out, but I coulda done it a lot different."
As the net tightens around him now, Rosen may indeed "do it a lot different" and begin cooperating with the feds in building a case that Hillary knew about the under-reporting.
When Rosen was indicted, the case seemed to be his word against Peter Paul's. Given Paul's criminal record, Rosen might have beaten the rap. But now he can't be so sure. If he implicated himself on tape, the government isn't relying solely on Paul's testimony.
The Times-Picayune reports that the feds have "lined up several other witnesses who will testify that Rosen was aware the event cost far more than his reports indicated."
The federal brief says that Rosen "became increasingly panicked as the costs began to spiral out of control. On some occasions, when news of yet another cost was revealed to him, the defendant literally threw up his hands and announced that 'I did not just hear that,' 'Don't tell me that again' and that he did not want the subject discussed around him again."
The feds also say Rosen directed one witness to "take thousands of dollars of line items" off a campaign report about the event's costs and told a "confidante" that there was "no way" he could accurately report the cost of the fund-raiser."
Asked about the "guinea pig" comment, Clinton lawyer David Kendall said: "It's no secret that counsel for Mr. Rosen" and the lawyers for the Clintons and for the Senate campaign committee were cooperating in their defense against Paul's civil lawsuit. What he does not say - and may have been the point of Rosen's remark - is that they might also be cooperating in his defense against criminal charges.
As long as any such arrangement helped Rosen and he had a realistic hope of acquittal, there was little chance he'd turn on the Clintons. But now, who knows?
On the tape, Rosen says he spoke to then-President Bill Clinton regularly - at least once a week - about the campaign fund-raising. What could the president have told him that the federal prosecutors would find interesting? We may find out.
Eileen McGann helped to prepare
Look for his new book, "Because He Could" about Bill Clinton.
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